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When Will Blogging Become Last Year's Fad?

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I can't help but notice a decline in commenting here at the Fix and at the 50 or so blogs I try to visit each week. Furthermore, unless I am wrong, few if any of Mack's Top 25 show weekly increases in readership. More often than not they are showing some decline. (Mack, correct me if I am wrong.)


Now, we can all think of reasons why commenting may be in decline: we've exhausted our ability to write about fresh topics; our new posts sound much like yesterday's posts; it is summer and people are doing other things; the writing generally across posts leads toward rumination and redundancy. Or new readership is in decline and our current readers have heard us before on a similar subject so are not motivated to comment.
As for Mack's numbers, I'll leave it to him to explain. But here's my point: I am reading lots of posts about the advantages of companies launching their blogs now, before the market is saturated by blogs. Makes good sense. Just as there are limited dollars to spend on our products and services, their are limited eyes to read our blogs. Building a solid audience now can lead to success in the future. Maybe.
What if, instead however, blogging is a social media fad? What if the audience has peaked or it is reaching its maximum potential and growth and it will slow in the future? If comments continue to remain in that one percent of readership range (the one percenters as defined in Citizen Marketers), does blogging prove itself to be a useful conversational tool?
Even if blogging remains a valuable social media, marketing and branding tool, assuming that it is, where will the fresh ideas and fresh writing come from? Can we expect today's bloggers to continue to post provocative and engaging material for years on end?
In many ways, this is a social experiment awaiting the results, especially in terms of the quality of writing. All other media use a variety of writers, producers, actors and so on to keep their material fresh. Most of us are single purveyors of the word. Even here at the Fix, I have noticed that Ann seems to rely on a few of the many writers listed as contributors.
How long can we satisfy our audience's wants and needs? Because at the end of the day, if we can't meet or exceed their expectations, they will shop elsewhere.


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Lewis Green, Founder and Managing Principal of L&G Business Solutions, LLC, (http://www.l-gsolutions.com) brings three decades of business management experience. L&G Business Solutions, LLC, represents his third company. Additionally, he held management positions with GTE Discovery Publications, Puget Sound Energy and Starbucks Coffee Company.

In addition to his business experiences, Lewis is a published author and a former journalist, sports writer and travel writer. His feature articles have appeared in books, magazines and newspapers throughout North America. He has taught in public schools; lobbied for organizations both in state capitols and in Washington, D.C.; delivered workshops, seminars, and training programs; and made presentations to audiences in colleges, businesses and professional organizations. Lewis also has served as a book editor with a large publisher, the Executive Editor overseeing four magazines, and a newspaper department editor. Lewis served eight years in the U.S. Air Force, where he received the Air Force Commendation Medal.

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  • by Patrick Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Well I'm commenting on your blog! Seriously I think it's basically a lull between to intial swell and excitement of early adopter and a much longer period where the "technology" will mature and be a part of everyday life. The term "blog" has many conotations that are hard for people to get over. I think a lot of people snicker when they hear the terms "problogger" or "business blog". The term blog sounds amateur and consumerish but overly techy at the same time. There is a lot of people using "blogging software" without being full-fleged bloggers. On top of that the term "RSS" needs to go in the opposite direction and sound more consumer friendly. You have to lose initials "RSS" but also not use terms like "new feeds" as well. You everyday Joe thinks of NBC, CNN, CBS, AP, UPI when they hear news feed. I'm just now getting customers turned on to the idea they need to "business blog" for lack of a better word.

  • by GoingLikeSixty Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Well, now you have two comments from me: one at your blog and one here! So delete one or the other if you choose. I agree with Patrick that RSS needs to grow to make blogs grow. If I was depending on links to read blogs, I would not be a regular reader. Not being a fad is a good thing!

  • by David Blanar Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    As the adage for online marketers goes, people spend 99% of their time on *someone else's site*, and there are simply loads of sites out there. I'm commenting more now, but across a huge swath of sites so as to dilute my contribution. Blogging is as much a philosophy as it is an activity. And for all the moaning about the triumph of the amateur, a steady paycheck keeps the professional writer focused on producing something - anything - day after day. Few such material rewards await we humble poets, so we're bound to opt out from time to time.

  • by Mack Collier Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Lewis I honestly think the lull in comments is a 'summer' thing. I saw the same thing last summer on many of the blogs I was reading. Even saw some blogs joking about 'summer's here, see you in the fall', or that type of thing. I think it's mostly seasonal. As for blogging being a fad, so far each company that I have profiled in my Company Blog Checkup series, (Kodak, HomeGoods, Dell), have all found my posts after doing a Technorati search for blogs linking to their company blog. So this alone suggests to me that companies are getting much better about monitoring what customers are saying about their brands in the blogosphere (or even realizing that they SHOULD be monitoring this feedback). Notice too that all 3 companies have been great about commenting at The Viral Garden, and Richard from Dell even commented here as well. I don't think either would have happened a year ago. I think that we as bloggers are probably talking more about blogging 'getting old', because we are a bit more clued into 'geeky' stuff, and are always looking for the 'next big thing'. But I don't think blogs or other forms of social media are going away anytime soon. In fact I think they are here to stay.

  • by Cam Beck Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Can'ttalknowtoomuchtodoseeyoulater.

  • by Lewis Green Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Patrick, Goinglikesixty and David--Thank you for your comments. (And thank you for commenting.) I think your points are excellent and give me more to chew on. Mack--As always, great insights. Because I am a writer, communicator and marketer first, I measure all results through readers eyes and activity. therefore, an increase in blogs isn't a true measure for me, an increase in readers and commentors is. It will be interesting for you and I and all other bloggers to keep an eye on those numbers, not just at our blogs but at others as well. Mack--you can help all of us do that by continuing to share your insights and recommendations and data. Cam--Just get on with it, my friend. Don't want to get in the way of the Master from Dallas.

  • by gianandrea Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    i'm with cam, 100%. talk to you soon. well, as the number of blogs increase the number of comments per blog should decrease, at least until the day is done of 24 hours.

  • by Ryan Karpeles Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    As more blogs appear, more posts get written and more bright people enter this space, I think the name of the game will continue to be differentiation. If you really want your readership to grow (or at least stay consistent), you'll have to provide something valuable, but unique. We knew this all along, of course. But the need to stand out from the crowd has grown larger, just as the crowd itself has increased in size. Viva la diferenciación!

  • by Matt Dickman Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Lewis -- I, like Mack, think that this is a summer thing. People who normally comment at least weekly skip a couple weeks and then return. I saw this happen over the past couple of years as well. Patrick is also right, however, that for this medium to REALLY grow RSS need to become better ingrained into people's lives. You're seeing it a little with iGoogle and Yahoo's custom homepage, but it needs to become easier for people to learn about it and act on it.

  • by Gavin Heaton Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    I think there are cycles ... I have not had the time recently to comment a lot. I have had to content myself with quick grab reading -- and when done through RSS feeds, I find I am less likely to comment. But I also have a feeling that there is a lot of recycling going on ... and not enough breaking through in terms of ideas. Or perhaps it is my short attention span ;)

  • by Lewis Green Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Ryan and Gavin--I agree that there is lots of topic redundancy happening in the blogosphere and that will eventually drive readership down, and perhaps lose readers who might otherwise discover other blogs. And Ryan, you are exactly right, that as more blogs come on line, only those that offer fresh quality will draw much of an audience. Gianandrea--you are right if readership doesn't grow, as well. And each of us who cares about this medium need to make an effort to grow that readership. Matt--summer can be a difficult time to grow anything except fruits and vegetables. But I have been seeing a downward trend in commenting across the 50 blogs I monitor. My readership continues to grow but I am more interested in what is happening to readership among those blogs older than mine. That may provide a more forward-looking analysis. Matt and Patrick--I agree about RSS and the stupid language we use to discuss this medium. Blogs, bloggers, blogging, RSS and other alphabet soup contenders do not make good and sticky messages.

  • by Harry Hallman Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    The readership of my blog has increased 400%. That is from one reader to 4 readers. All kidding aside, everything media and activity reaches a plateau so perhaps the decrease has to do with meaningful topics and numbers of people interested in those topics. On the other hand I also think it is a summer thing. Everything else slows down in business so why not blog readership.

  • by Elaine Fogel Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Lewis, if my own experience is any indication, it could be that people are reading more than they're commenting. I chair the American Marketing Association's Nonprofit SIG (special interest group), which is available to members only. I tried to stimulate questions and dialog, and even though activity did improve slightly, it wasn't was I had anticipated. Finally, a few members told me that they're reading the content, but don't always have time to join the conversation. In our busy work lives, and with so much content in the blogosphere and beyond, it is possible that we have a strong readership, but not necessarily as many speakers. As for the goofy terms used in Web 2.0, who knew what an 'Internet' was when it was first deployed, or for that matter what words like'pixel' or acronyms like PDA and IM meant? They all eventually became part of everyday vernacular.

  • by Glenn Gow Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Lewis, it all depends on your objectives. Are you trying to get people to comment, or read? Do you want them to comment on your site, or somewhere else about what you've written? Most importantly, however, it's about quality (not quantity). As the number of bloggers increases, the quality bar rises. People can only pay attention to so many things. What is the quality of the information you're providing for the audience you target? For our clients (technology vendors), we focus on the quality issue as a basic requirement. The higher the quality of the information, the more readers will pay attention and read, and comment, and engage in additional conversations elsewhere about what you have to say. The higher the quality of information, the more influence you will have on your target audience. Quality = influence.

  • by Patrick Schaber Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Lewis, I think it's just the opposite - blog use is increasing and there are more options and more places to comment and contribute. I think over time it will level out as bloggers with the best content stick around and gain readership while those who lose steam will fall away. -Pat

  • by Ryan Karpeles Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Also... RSS is great, but it requires the reader to click-through to the actual site if she/he wants to comment. Just another barrier to continuing the conversation.

  • by Ann Handley Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Geez Lewis.. talk about a downer post! : ) Seriously -- I doubt that blogging is burning out and is simply a fad. The reality is that blogs are part of a fundamental shift in the way we communicate, converse and connect with each other, as well as with the companies and brands we like. I don't think that trend is going anywhere soon... it's too fundamental a shift. That being said, blogging is only one part of that trend, which includes tons of other vehicles and platforms, in a social media sphere that continues to grow. So I'd guess that part of the shift away from commenting, I think, is because we are zipping between them with a lot more speed and fluidity. Fewer comments is a byproduct of... well MORE... as several have suggested here. I don't see it as a bad thing, necessarily. The Fix and other blogs I read are still growing in both readership, visibility and influence... and my sense is that the community is still engaged with blogs and other social media platforms. More so, in fact, not less. So lighten up already, wiull ya?! ; )

  • by Ryan Karpeles Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Also... RSS is great, but it requires the reader to click-through to the actual site if she/he wants to comment. Just another barrier to continuing the conversation. Which means, if your goal is to get more comments, you have to create content that will induce people to make that leap. Easier said than done.

  • by Ann Handley Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    p.s. Greg Verdino http://gregverdino.typepad.com/greg_verdinos_blog/2007/06/so_long_social_.h... ...points to a PC Mag article: MySpace, Second Life and Twitter are Doomed http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,2145409,00.asp The article relates to this post, as it predicts that the whole Social Media movement will burn out by the end of the decade. My favorite part was the final haiku: Goodbye, bubble, and So long, overhyped nonsense Till the next "Big Thing." (Entertaining... but I kinda doubt it! Except for Twitter. Which I do think is nonsense.)

  • by Lewis Green Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    I can't complain about the number of comments here. Great conversation. Instead of responding individually to all your great thoughts, let me check off on some of the big ideas. Goals: My goals are irrelevant in this discussion, because I am talking about the future of blogging. However, goals are important and should be written down and measurable. I have two goals, for example: 1) To grow readership and 2) To grow my busniess. However, while it isn't one of my measurable goals, without conversation the blogger and the readers learn far less, and that disappoints. Language: What the heck is PDA? I get the point, but I disagree that jargon becomes everyday language. It is called jargon because it is the language of insiders. To build readership we need to draw in new people who don't have a clue what we are talking about when we communicate using jargon. By the way, keep trying to generate conversation, Elaine. I can't think of many better equipped to succeed. Lighten Up: My strategy was to create lots of comments by being provocative on a subject near and dear to the readers hearts. Hmm. I think it is working, and maybe all of us should consider asking big and dangerous questions in our own posts without offending our readers by presuming we are smarter than they. (By the way, Ann. Thank you for the forum.) Blog Use: Yes, it is increasing but the question isn't one of bloggers, it is one of readers. Will their numbers continue to increase? Quality: Good writing that is fresh, provocative, honest, engaging, motivational, inspirational, and on-topic is how traditionally readership has been increased in the print world, from where I came. I don't see why it would be any different within the blogosphere. (God, that is a stupid word!)

  • by Ann Handley Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Lew -- I was just kidding with the lighten up comment... You do ask the hard questions -- and we love you for it. One more thing -- the "Summer Factor" is indeed a phenomenon with blogs, particularly with business blogs, on Fridays and Mondays, esp. I call it the "Sunny Day Depression." : )

  • by Lewis Green Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Ann, I got the joke. I was just saying "right back at you, my friend." And I agree with you about Twitter, but, honestly, I do believe we bloggers have to do a better job of getting the word out (marketing) our blogs and must actively build readership. Some ways are quite simple: 1. Make sure your blog URL is on your business card. 2. Put a link to your blog on your web site. 3. Drive traffic to both your web site and blog by putting the URLs on all your marketing pieces, white papers and messaging. 4. Put both URLs on your electronic signature. 5. Talk about your blog when networking. 6. Submit articles to the print media about your experiences blogging. Before doing any of this, make sure you offer reader value on your blog.

  • by Lewis Green Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    I should have mentioned that a longer list recommending ways to build readership is posted at http://lgbusinesssolutions.typepad.com/solutions_to_grow_your_bu/2007/06/ho...

  • by BobG Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Ye got a fairly good response on this one Lewis :) of course this is the fixoshpere :)

  • by CK Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    "The reality is that blogs are part of a fundamental shift in the way we communicate, converse and connect with each other, as well as with the companies and brands we like. I don't think that trend is going anywhere soon... it's too fundamental a shift." Yup ;-).

  • by Mack Collier Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    BTW Lewis back to your original point, yes when I was still using Alexa for the Top 25, I was noticing that most of the blogs were showing their traffic as going down. But again I'm sure that isn't just a summer thing, and without looking at other non-blog sites at the same time, it's hard to say if it's just blogs that are going down.

  • by Nat@Nudge Thu Jun 21, 2007 via blog

    "The reality is that blogs are part of a fundamental shift in the way we communicate, converse and connect with each other, as well as with the companies and brands we like"...haven't heard it said better Ann. I think if this has been a fundamental shift, it was a fundamental shift that was initially enabled by improved technologic capabilities. This instigated a new mindset for individuals, communities, organisation, marketers etc about how we can communicate, build communities, build relationships and consolidate social networks. The question then is, what impact will changing technology have on how we form and consolidate social networks, and, will technology change have an impact on this mindset on a fundamental level? If you know the answers to this, and apply it, you may just become ridiculously rich and powerful. Good luck cheers oh yeah, its not summer in the souther hemisphere

  • by Lewis Green Thu Jun 21, 2007 via blog

    Bob, CK, Mack and Nat--Thank you for adding your voices to this conversation. Or as Bob says, being a fixer in the fixosphere. Thanks Nat for reminding us that you are entering your winter months.

  • by Matt Grant Thu Jun 21, 2007 via blog

    As usual, a day late and a dollar short. Stepping into a comment stream that's already gotten lengthy is hard to do, but given the topic here I thought it would still be worthwhile. 2 things: 1) I'm a corporate blogger for the time being. This means that I blog in addition to my other responsibilities and sometimes those responsibilities take priority. During deadline-heavy times, I still post, but I have less time to read other blogs and comment. I guess this was Cam's point. 2) It all depends on what you mean by "blogging." I think of a blog as a medium first and foremost - a medium that is distinguished by ease of publication, the ability to link, and the capacity to entertain responses (this is often referred to as its "conversational" aspect, but it lacks the immediacy and flow of a true conversation to me - more like an individualized, super-specific discussion board or the back and forth you might encounter in the graffiti on a bathroom wall). On that front, the medium is here to stay. The particular use of the medium - individuals posting daily about a defined subject area like marketing - is only a subset of its possible uses and this type of blog might indeed be a fad. Either that or it will lose it's "specialness" and become simply a necessity of conducting certain sorts of business. If you are marketing yourself as a writer, for example, you will be expected to maintain a blog, just like a photographer or an illustrator is expected to have a portfolio.

  • by Lewis Green Thu Jun 21, 2007 via blog

    Thanks Matt. It's great to get the perspective of a corporate blogger.

  • by Drew McLellan Thu Jun 21, 2007 via blog

    Lewis, I think we also need to look in the mirror. My personal experience is that when I write a post that invites conversation, opinions, and viewpoints -- I get them. I try to always end my posts with a question or two to stimulate the conversation. God knows I don't want to just listen to me blather on, so I can't imagine my readers do! Second -- how good am I at responding to comments? Do I always respond unless the comment is an "atta boy" type thing? Do I respond within 72 hours or so? Does my response further the conversation or close it down? Do I comment on other blogs? I cannot be so arrogant as to think the conversation is always going to come to me. If I am generous in participating in conversations begun by others that good karma comes back, one way or another. I think it's just like life in general. If I don't intentionally seek something out or make it part of my vision and plan -- odds are I might be waiting a while. Drew

  • by Dusan Vrban Tue Jun 26, 2007 via blog

    I'm very late, but need to comment on this. Web 2.0, blogs and stuff like that are just too much talked about. My sincere opinion is that even web 5.0 won't help you much. I was kidding arround it in my new test Myspace: http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.ListAll&friendID=19720581... Did internet change things in the world? Yes. But did Coca-cola stay Coca-cola? Yes. So yes, some things will change, but don't belive that blog is something so radically new. There are still people behind scenes. People with limitations in time and with interests so different that it is amazing. Blogging is interesting and makes changes. But there's a limitation to it as well. So on question of future - I think blog is nothing new and therefore just changes some things in media market. At the end, we will still have big brands with big money that will buy mass people's attention. Blogs will somehow stay interesting as a quick information transfer in some cases. The problem is actually just that we look at these things from our environment, location and knwoledge. The world is however much bigger then internet. And even internet is... you know, your world. :-)

  • by Lola Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    I too, must chime in with Cam. I actually found a second to blog about the fact I had such little time to blog lately and that I should get a "Twitter" account (which I did) but my last "Twit" reads, "Too many ideas... Too little time!" Recently, I've discovered Postreach, a site that provides "click comments." Click comments puts a little series of buttons with icons at the end of your blog post that allow readers to "comment" by clicking on the icon that best represents their thoughts with such things as "Write More!" or "Made me think." Of course, they need to expand their button choice (especially for the business blog world) but when I went to the site to suggest that (and paste the URL here) I saw that they are currently down because they are in the middle of a server upgrade... too much traffic. So you see, people ~want~ to comment but who has the time? Damn! I'm late for a meeting now! ;-)

  • by Julie Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    I think the blog world is getting saturated. So many blogs don't say anything of substance. I realize frequent communication is a necessity but it's got to be meaningful or at least interesting.

  • by Anne Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    Hi Lewis: Great discussion here. Your post resonated with me because I am currently getting reinvolved in the blog community after a few months of having to devote all my time to business and family issues. Yes, it helps me in my business, but you have to sacrifice somewhere when time is tight. The problem of having too little time and too much to do is typical of many bloggers and nonbloggers alike. I agree with Patrick - the technology" needs to "mature to make the consumption of feeds more convenient - while readers gave gotten better I think they are still too clunky for the average person.

  • by Anne Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    Hi Lewis: Great discussion and timely too. I am just beginning to post and blog again after a hiatus to focus on business and family issues. While I may have to disappear from time to time, though, it's something I just can't see abandoning. I do agree with Patrick; the terminology and the technology can be offputting for folks that aren't as passionate about blogging as all of us. Feed readers have come a long way, but have a long way to go to appeal a broad audience. But good content always has appeal, although there may be different ways of communicating it.

  • by Anne Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    oops, forgive the double entry---my computer is playing tricks on me. Cheers!

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